INT: Jon Heder
Jon Heder has become synonymous with the character he brought to life in NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. Much to everyones surprise, soon, the whole country was proudly wearing Vote for Pedro and other clever bits of dialogue on their t-shirts. Although fads tend to die, Jon is back opposite Billy Bob Thornton in SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS as a man trying to find his identity in an unconventional course for losers.
I had a chance to meet up with Jon and although shades of Napoleon seem to creep in every so often, he is an actor with a flair for comedy. He stopped by The Four Seasons in Beverly Hills to chat about Billy Bob Thornton, tennis and what its like to be a cheetah (and of course tater tots). Jon is friendly, funny and its nice to see a slightly different side of him in Scoundrels.
Jacinda [Barrett] just told us about you and Billy Bob doing the tater tots and fried potatoes number.
She wasnt there, was she? Oh yeah, she was. She came in late. She was like, Do it again. I was like, Sorry.
Was it filmed?
No. But we said we wanted to. We joked We still talk about it (it) would be great to shoot a little short film. So, you guys get the resources together
Is it easy for you to play the loser?
Yes it is because its not being comedic; its just acting like me. No, especially this character was fun. It was kind of more like I looked at it as like, Okay, heres my chance to kind of play more of the natural me, kind of the straight guy. But I was reminded yesterday when I saw the film for the first time that he really is a pathetic, sad person at the beginning. I forgot about that, so Im not that sad and pathetic in real life. But yeah, a lot of Roger is kind of how I was in high school. I had no confidence with women. But I wasnt too that much of a pushover in my work. But I dont know, I mean I was very similar. I started to get more backbone as I got older but not when I was younger.
Did you ever read a self-help book?
I never read a self-help book except for the Bible. The Scriptures is maybe the closest thing. But I never owned a self-help book. Im not that into reading. If Im gonna read, Im gonna read some cool sci-fi book or something, not some stupid self-help book. Although I did pick up The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I tried it because it (it) was such a popular book. I read it for two seconds and I just didnt get into it. I was like, Im highly effective.
How is it being on set with Billy whos completely the opposite? You are more you dont do coffee, or dont swear; hes the opposite.
Its a real thing just as in the movie. Theyre polar opposite. It was kind of like that. But, obviously, the cool thing about acting and just like the business world is, like he is very different but he was nice. Very hed get right into character but in between wed sit down, wed talk, hed tell stories. The three of us had a lot of fun. Wed all joke around. He was very cool, very nice. It was really cool, he was very nice to all of the crew, everybody really liked being around him.
You didnt find his behavior shocking?
No, it wasnt shocking. Shocking is if I didnt expect it.
Was there any improv with him?
There wasnt a ton. I mean, we both liked the script and when the scripts pretty good, you dont really go off the page that much. Every now and then wed do alternate takes, but not a lot.
This is really your first romantic lead and you get the girl
I get the girl in Napoleon Dynamite. I do, Ill tell you [laughing]. I mean true, I dont kiss her I dont know how he could ever kiss her.
Okay, I mean mainstream romantic movie. Was that cool when you read it?
Yeah, you root for the character. You want him to get the girl. I mean like any other romantic comedy, you want the guy to get the girl. I mean, yeah, it was like, it was weird, I had a complex shooting the film like, Am I really Like the wardrobe people would always be telling me, Dont worry, you look handsome in this outfit. Dont worry, when you kiss a girl it will be all worth it. You know, like, People will love it. And Im like, Okay. I will never know because I cant watch it. I cant watch it. I can watch the whole film, but I cant watch romantic stuff. Its awkward.
Do you find people who are offering you things working around what you will do? Who you are morality wise...when people offer roles do they cater to how you feel?
I mean sometimes they dont know or sometimes theyll send a
script or that
I mean, yeah, people are very, yeah, I do find
that actually. I dont want to say surprisingly, but
Ever play Paintball before?
Yeah. Reading the script it was one of my favorite scenes because it took me right back to in high school my friends and I would not, you know, where you go to the park and do it but we would do it full on guerilla-style in his backyard. I lived in Oregon so he had like huge forests and stuff and wed go around shooting each other so that was very reminiscent of messing around. I remember my dad served in Germany during the Gulf War as a doctor, and when he came back he brought back from Germany these paint guns and we were like the first ones in our group of friends who had them. Basically it was the exact same thing. We just wanted to shoot each other. No one had any protective [gear]. We were shooting each other on the leg and really close to the crotch and I was like, Youre crazy, let me get away! It was almost the same thing.
Todd was saying you actually did get hit.
Yeah, I did. It was my, well it was kind of my fault. We had protective gear but it was like I felt like a robot and I could barely move so I kept taking it off. But all they had to do was shoot me in the crotch. And Matt Walsh, who was the main guy doing it, was right next to me and every time hed be like POW, right in the chest. Im like, How hard is it to hit me? And even when they had to shoot me theyd miss and theyd hit the inside of my leg and it would sting. So I had a couple of good welts. But they were battle wounds and I felt like a Klingon.
How did your life change since Napoleon [Dynamite]?
doing this movie. Im doing movies with Billy Bob Thornton and I
mean, its I mean its like, huge. Its changed a ton. Im
You have a production company.
I have a company. I mean its really; so many dreams have come true. Id always wanted to, my brothers and I have always wanted to make movies. Its what we always wanted to do. And before Napoleon I was finishing up college. I was a poor college student and Id just gotten married. I didnt quite know where I was gonna go. I was planning on becoming an animator, hopefully. But this kind of took off and I saw it as a chance to get into the business.
Still want to get into animation?
Oh yeah, I mean my brothers and I are trying to develop ideas for feature length animations.
You wanted to be actor as well, when you were a kid joined a theater?
CET, Childrens Educational Theater was kind of the big
I grew up
When you were younger did you ever have a crush on a girl that, you didnt pass out, but you were tongue-tied and you couldnt talk to her?
Well, I mean, like I said in high school I really was like
Roger. I mean, if I liked a girl, yeah I definitely was. I
wouldnt know what to say
But like, Roger, even Roger tries.
I dont think I would have tried, but he makes an attempt.
Really painful, but he makes an attempt. I didnt have the
confidence. I had the
I was confident that I had no confidence and so Id
be like, No, Im not gonna go talk to her because I know I will
make a fool of myself, probably.
But I still, yeah I get a little tongue-tied in a traditional
kind of like shy guy, and I, you know, theres one girl I really
wish I had made the move on and never did.
Im married now so I can make the move on her whenever I want.
Youre having a baby. When is it due?
I think in the Spring. Not quite sure, but I mean, you know .the time of growth and plants coming up - sprout a baby.
How was the tennis scene?
Watching or making?
I mean, it was great. It was really a cool scene because it was very cinematic. Its cool, I mean that was one of the experiences when youre shooting it you dont know its gonna be that way. I mean the slow mo and the music building up. It was fun because Jacinda likes to play. I mean Sarahs [Silverman] really good too. Sarah and Jacinda and I would actually play. Jacinda and I still have not finished our match. We started one and we were tied. I mean Im better than her but she would always luck out for some reason or Id get too aggressive. We havent finished. It was a lot of fun just playing. Anytime I get to do the physical stuff, I love to do that. It was a lot of fun to do because we were all there and I got to hit Billy Bob with the racket in the back of the head. It was a fake racket, but still, hitting him nonetheless.
When you saw it on screen what did you think?
It was great. It was just very, it really pulled you in. You forget what it was like shooting it. It pulls you into the moment. I mean, when you hit someone with that final swoosh, that was really good. Except I was like, Wow, Rogers a really good aim. I was trying to hit real balls in the beginning when he was standing up front. Its hard. I pegged him in the back for real quite a couple of times. But he was cool about it.
You are athletic?
Wait till you see the figure skating movie. I [fantasize] myself a natural athlete with a lot of klutz tendencies because I broke I dont always, I never did because I never got hard core into doing the physical stuff until I was older. I played all the sports when I was growing up but I really took to figure skating. I love that. I broke my ankle on that. But yeah, I mean, I always look like a goof doing it but I really enjoy it, and I take to it pretty quickly.
You are good at sports?
The ones Ive tried so far, I think. I dont know if Id ever be great at football. I could run fast, but I dont know if I could take down the big dudes.
Figure skating movie thats you and the two Wills [Will Ferrell and Will Arnet]?
Whats it called?
Blades of Glory .
Whats your part?
I play opposite Will Ferrell and we are both Olympian figure skaters who have to skate together because theyre kicked out. They get in a fight, because theyre competing, they get in a fight; they get kicked and get banned from mens singles. So the only way they get back in is through pair skating and nobody else will take them so they pair skate together.
Girl or two guys?
Well, they dont pretend, no. they just like. I mean Im going to be more the girl character because Im lighter. He does the lifting. They skate together.
Do you spin?
Yeah, I think so. We have some pretty spectacular moments.
You actually did a lot of the skating?
Yeah, I did. I mean, we knew that all the fancy stuff was gonna be, like, doubled, but I mean we tried to get as good as we could and I love it. Its a really fun thing to do. So I mean, each day on set I just got gradually better and better so by the end of shooting I was like, Can we go back and re-shoot my skating, because I can do it better now?
Is your big rivalry with Amy Poehler and Will Arnett?
Yeah, theyre the skating duo who are the bad guys.
How about the Ben Stiller sequence? How much of that was improv?
He would stick to the script but he would add a few little things every now and then and [he] was very funny. It was hard. I mean, my favorite part was just the end when we have that awkward moment together, just kind of looking at each other. And just dealing with all those cats. You never notice in the movies, but
How many cats?
They had a lot. I cant remember there were like 30, at least. It was dirty. It was just a gross set. I mean I love cats, but these were dirty cats. They were everywhere.
Youre not allergic to cats .
I am. But I have two of them, so I can hold up if I dont touch them too much.
You said last night you saw the movie. What was something that you saw that you cant remember shooting?
What I dont remember is how pathetic he is. I mean it really did catch me when I was watching the first third of the movie. I was like, Gosh, I hope he redeems himself because its so sad. I just cant see why the girl would ever hook up with him or why anybody would take him seriously. But I mean, yeah, the traditional moments when like, Oh, why did they cut that out? Or you remember something that was supposed to be there for like timing reasons or whatever reasons. But really, yeah, the tennis scene was great.
How do you unleash your inner lion?
Through my pores.
What makes you want to unleash your inner lion?
When you see something you want, you want to go after it, I guess. Im more of a cheetah because its more graceful.
You can run really fast?
He can run after prey, its just more graceful. And I used to be a lamb. Now Im a cheetah.
Any talk about Napoleon Dynamite II?
Everybody talks about it; nobody ever shuts up about it. But, yeah, weve talked about it but nothings really happening. Honestly like, I wouldnt be opposed to doing it if you had all the same people working on it. But I think its just, were so busy doing other things its like, havent gotten around to it.
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